The Twin Engine airplane symbolizes connection. We’ve been connecting coffee lovers to authentic, beautiful Nicaraguan coffees, to Nicaragua’s culture, and to the best that can be created here. In the beginning, we expected this connection to take some work. We may have underestimated the challenges.
Dramatic events are currently taking place in Nicaragua. It started the weekend of April 19th as a peaceful demonstration and has continued for two months with violent clashes and dramatic impacts. Various international news outlets are reporting the details of the conflict between the government and several groups. Our commentary is personal. We will leave you to read other accounts for the broader perspective.
Here we are. In León there are barricaded roads and a resolution date is difficult to predict. Many people here are prevented from using their cars or traveling at night due to the roadblocks and general safety concerns. Markets are inconsistently stocked.
The “situation” that we are currently in has brought to light global coffee issues and ideas. Namely “fair trade” and “local coffee”.
Most coffee roasters and companies around the world, when the ‘Nicaraguan’ doesn’t arrive, can switch to another country’s “single origin” coffee. Little impact will likely be felt in the global coffee economy. Nicaragua represents a single-digit percentage in global coffee production.
Turn that idea on its head with regard to the local coffee economy. Raw coffee production represents about 10% of Nicaragua’s national exports. To some people it is everything. The local coffee economy consists primarily of green coffee exports and the small, growing specialty “local coffee” sector of which Twin Engine Coffee is an essential part.
Alas, Nicaragua’s economy is at a virtual standstill. Coffee producers haven’t been able to get their coffees to the port on time for their contracts. Jobs are being lost every day. It is ugly. The national minimum wage is around US$200 per month (US$2,400 per year). This is the reality for about 1/2 of Nicaragua's population, living on a “day-to-day” basis with little “rainy day” savings to buy extra food during times such as these.
For us, fair trade has always meant being here in this community and connecting it with coffee lovers around the world. Most local people we work with only work in coffee because Twin Engine is here. Right now, during these times, we are supporting our employees in a number of ways (morale, advances, stability, safety). But moreover, we are here with our local community. Hoping together that the beautiful relationships that we have built together will sustain and have a bright future on the other side.
Due to local transportation challenges and business closures, we are focused more on our international sales for the time being. This will allow us to continue our work here and along the path of authentic coffee connection that we originally envisioned. Our retailers, website, and Amazon are stocked. Retailers, if you aren't, please let us know!
We are writing this communication now because so many of you we know personally. Our ‘newsletter’ reaches many who have visited us and who have helped us grow to where we are now. We want you to know that we are pushing forward as safety allows. We believe that Nicaragua will soon return to the beautiful and peaceful country that many of you have come to know.
Andrea and Colin
Twin Engine Coffee Founder